What do you do when your teething baby won’t sleep unless held at night? Here are 3 steps and remedies when your baby won’t stop crying.
Your baby had been doing so well with sleep. He was sleeping through the night—in his crib, no less. The rare times he’d wake up usually ended with him going right back to sleep. For months, this was his happy sleep routine.
But then, his teeth started to poke through, and your once-easy sleeper is now inconsolable.
He starts crying the minute you put him down in his crib. Even if you manage to get him to fall asleep, he’ll only do so an hour at a time. You know it’s his teeth, since he’s displaying all the symptoms.
To make it worse, even when teething is no longer the culprit, he has fallen into new habits of needing to be held to fall asleep. So much so that you’ve been bringing him to your bed, so sleep-deprived and exhausted to do anything else.
It’s like you’ve gone backward. Whereas you had been doing so great for so long, now you feel like you’re caring for a two-month-old all over again.
What to do when your teething baby won’t sleep unless held
The tricky thing with teething is that it isn’t a one-time event—your baby will continue to grow teeth for years. Teething also isn’t as clear-cut as, say, monitoring a fever. A quick temperature check can confirm a fever, whereas you need to rely on educated guesses to pinpoint teething.
Any time my eldest was fussy and restless, I kept claiming that he must be teething. Except, to my surprise, he didn’t even have his first tooth until well after he turned a year old.
So yes, teething can be tricky, especially when it disrupts your baby’s once-established sleep routine. What do you do when he clearly needs you to fall asleep, yet you find yourself falling into bad habits that leave everyone exhausted?
Take a look at these tips to move forward when your teething baby won’t sleep unless held:
1. Attend to your baby’s needs
It’s easy to lose your patience with teething, considering how often it happens and how ambiguous its symptoms can be. But if you’re more certain that your baby is miserable because of teething, now is the time to attend to his needs.
Because at the end of the day, you would also console him should he have a bad cold or a high fever. Don’t assume that you’re “spoiling” him during this time, or that you’ll forever be stuck with these habits (more on that, later).
Instead, comfort him at all hours as you would any other time in his life when he needs you. Think of it as a temporary stage that will eventually pass.
2. Go back to your old routine
That said, what do you do when you suspect your baby is no longer teething, but has instead grown used to his “new” routine?
Simple: go back to your old one.
Let’s say his tooth has finally come in and you don’t see any other signs of new teeth emerging. Yet he continues to insist on being rocked to sleep or sleeping in your bed every night. Go back to your old routine, re-sleep training if needed.
Whatever method you had chosen to get him to sleep those long stretches at night, repeat the same process again. And don’t worry—it’s not the same as starting from square one. If he had already been sleep trained, going back to your old routine won’t take as long as it may have initially taken him the first time around.
But it’s important to go back to your old routine as quickly as possible after teething has passed. In fact, remember that these setbacks are going to happen all the time, from illness to milestones to vacations. You’ll constantly be going back to your old routine to reset his habits every once in a while.
Free resource: Whether you’ve tried to teach him to self soothe in the past or are now considering it, take a look at the 5 key mistakes to avoid when teaching him to self soothe. Join my newsletter and grab this amazing resource below—at no cost to you:
3. Ease your baby’s teething symptoms
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Your teething baby might want to be held to sleep all night, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help ease her symptoms, even during the day. By tending to her symptoms, you can prevent many of her discomforts come nighttime.
For instance, you can:
- Offer frozen or cold items. Place a teething pacifier or a washcloth in the freezer for her to gnaw on and soothe her gums.
- Provide teething toys. Amber teething necklaces and rubber teething toys are popular with many moms and babies.
- Give teething biscuits. Is she starting to eat solids? Teething biscuits can give her something to chew on, relieving the pressure she might feel in her gums.
- Switch medicines. Consult with your pediatrician about trying new medicines to see if one works better than the other.
It can be hard to know what to do when your teething baby won’t sleep unless held suddenly. He won’t stop crying hysterically at night, and screams when he’s laid down flat in his crib.
Thankfully, you now know that going back to your routine, balanced with tending to his needs, is key to getting back the sleep you used to have. You won’t be starting from square one, but by going back to your old habits, you can replace these new ones that are leaving you exhausted.
And of course, ease his symptoms during the day, from giving him teething toys to changing his medicines. Any little bit of help and comfort he can find will make his nights more bearable.
When this phase passes—and it will—your baby will go back to being the good sleeper he had always been!
Get more tips:
- How to Get a Teething Baby to Sleep
- Adjust These 3 Factors to Stop Your Baby Waking Early
- 5 Reasons Your Baby Wakes Up Crying Hysterically
- How to Solve 11 Month Old Sleep Problems
- Baby Wakes Up Every Hour? Must-Know Tips for Parents
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